President Obama added flesh to the bones of his ambitious cyber-security strategy Friday, potentially providing a boost to tech security stocks.
After a 60-day review process, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council delivered a report to Obama on how best to tackle the growing threat of cyber-crime. Key recommendations include appointing a cyber-security "czar," forging closer ties between the federal government and the private sector, and responding more effectively to cyber attacks.
"My administration will promise a new, comprehensive approach," said Obama, during a White House press conference, where he welcomed the report. "Protecting this infrastructure will be a key national priority."
The government's decision to raise the profile of cyber-security could be good news for software companies such as
( MFE) and
, which sell technologies for securing data and computer systems.
McAfee, for example, snapped up
last year to bolster its federal firewall profile and recently reported its thirteenth consecutive quarter of
"We look forward to continued participation in an even stronger partnership with the government to ensure that our institutions and citizens are able to fully participate in a secure and networked world," said Dave De Walt, the McAfee CEO, in a statement released Friday.
Despite the government cyber-security news, shares of McAfee dipped with the broader tech market, slipping 34 cents, or 0.87% to $38.70. Symantec's stock, however, went in the opposite direction, rising 29 cents, or 1.91%, to $15.48.
Obama's data lockdown could present opportunities to a wide range of tech companies, such as services giant
, now part of
Global Services division. In addition to deploying actual technology, the Obama administration also needs to integrate myriad complex systems, hence the need for services expertise.
Other potential beneficiaries of the cyber-security agenda include
, which sells firewall technology, and smaller companies such as network security specialist
( FIRE). Such is the importance of Sourcefire's Snort technology to government systems that Washington blocked Israeli firm
attempt to buy the company in 2006.
Even as the Obama administration strengthens its links with the tech sector, however, the president promised to keep government's nose out of private networks.
"Our pursuit of cyber-security will not include monitoring private networks," he said during his press conference Friday. "I am committed to net neutrality to keep the Internet as it should be, open and free."
During his press conference Obama even compared the evolution of the digital age to the industrial revolution. "The epics of history are long," he said. "A new world awaits, a world of greater security and greater potential prosperity."
The president also explained that he will personally choose a cyber-security coordinator, who will integrate all cyber-security efforts across government. This person will be a member of both Obama's national security staff and the national economic council, he added, explaining that he or she will work closely with federal CIO
and newly appointed CTO
At least one tech sector executive would also like to see the cyber-security tzar focus on securing cloud-based data.
"There need to be standards in that space; one company can't come up with the standard ," Bruce Kornfeld, vice president of marketing at
( CML), told
. "It could be a consortium of companies, but it has to be a joint effort across the industry, hopefully led by the tzar."